Pumpkin Gnocchi With Sage Vanilla Brown Butter Sauce and Smoked Duck Breast

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Submitted by derMoerder

This is the second course of a three-course meal for my ICSA 14 entry. Pumpkin Sformato precedes this dish and Pumpkin Seed Panna Cotta With Hazelnut Cream follows.

Gnocchi was the first thing that came to mind for my main course when I saw pumpkin as the new ICSA theme. I love to make squash gnocchi, the sweetness is a nice change from potatoes. You could just make the gnocchi and serve it alone with some sauce as an antipasto if you dig it.

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Ingredients (For 4 Servings)[edit]

01 ingred.jpg 02 spices.jpg

  • 1 Smoked Duck Breast (Buy from your grocer or the internet but smoking stuff yourself is very satisfying. Plus, by doing it yourself, you can add exactly whatever flavors you want to the cure, like some rosemary and thyme in this case.)
  • 2 Tbsp Butter for saute
  • 1/4tsp Spice Blend
  • 1oz Parmigiano-Reggiano
  • 1/4C Pumpkin Seeds
  • 4 Leaves Fresh Sage
  • Pinch Cumin

Spice Blend

Equal Parts of all the following, yielding at least 2 Tbsp

  • Nutmeg
  • Black Peppercorns
  • Cloves
  • Cinnamon
  • Allspice
  • Cardamom Seed
  • Cumin
  • Dried Ginger
  • Plus a little bit of ground cayenne

Gnocchi Dough

  • 3C Pumpkin Purée (Halved and seeded "sugar" or "soup" pumpkins, roasted with salt, pepper and butter would be much better if you have it available. Just let the flesh drain in a colander for a while after cooking so it's not too wet.
  • 1 Egg
  • 3C Flour, plus more as needed
  • 1 Tbsp Spice Blend
  • Heavy Pinch Salt

Beurre Noisette

  • 2 Tbsp Butter, room temp
  • Salt TT
  • Vanilla Extract TT
  • Sherry Vinegar TT (Forgot this in the photo, oops)


01c tools.jpg

  • Chef Knife or Whatever
  • Slicer
  • Dough Scraper
  • Cheese Grater
  • Skimmer
  • Rubber Spatula
  • Dinner Fork (Not pictured)
  • Bowls and Pots as needed


02 eggs.jpg

  • Don't forget to anthropomorphize your eggs!

04 toasting spices.jpg 05 grinding spices.jpg

  • Toast your whole spices, grind to a powder, and finally add any that you had in powder form, plus the bit of cayenne. Reserve.

05b toast seeds.jpg

  • Toast the Pumpkin Seeds in a bit of butter, seasoned with salt, pepper and cumin. Reserve.

06 dough a.jpg

I buggered it up in the pictures, but here's what you should actually do:

  • Add the egg first since it will be easiest to mix in at this point.
  • Mix in a Tbsp of the spice mixture and the pinch of salt.
  • Now add your flour, adding bit by bit until the dough is... well, doughy but still sticky. Too much flour will make the gnocchi too hard, and not enough will make them just come apart in the water. The right balance will leave us with a nice tender ball of dough.

09 dough ball.jpg 10 dough rope.jpg

  • Cut off a chunk of the dough and roll into a rope around as thick as your thumb.

11 cut gnocchi.jpg 12 roll gnocchi.jpg

  • Put lightly salted water on to boil.
  • Preheat oven to 400°F for the duck.
  • Cut off half-inch-or-so bits of dough from the rope.
  • Round them in your hands, and then comes the futzy part. Press into the floured fork and then roll the ball up the tines so that it has the pattern halfway around the gnocchi. It can take a little practice to make them pretty.
  • Set them on some floured parchment or something that will make it easy to dump them into the water.

13 gnocchi rolled.jpg 14 gnocchi into water.jpg

  • Dump gnocchi into the water. Gently make sure they don't stick to the bottom of the pot or eachother when they first go in.
  • Cook around two minutes after they float to the surface. That's the timing I used, but run a test on one or two of your gnocchi to see how it works out for you.

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  • Remove the cooked gnocchi with a skimmer and reserve.

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  • Chiffonade the sage. Roll all the leaves inside the largest one, then slice very thinly as pictured.

21 duck heat.jpg

  • Heat the smoked duck breast in the oven while we finish everything else up.

22 gnocchi saute.jpg 23 gnocchi drain.jpg

  • Melt some butter and toss the gnocchi a serving at a time in it till they start to get a little golden brown and develop that sort of crust that makes them so delicious.
  • Right at the end, add in a few strands of the sage and a good pinch of the spice mixture.
  • Let drain on a rack.
  • Whipe the pan out so we can make the sauce with fresh butter.

24 beurre noisette.jpg 26 duck slice.jpg

  • Melt the butter for the sauce and swirl around on medium low heat until the milk solids turn a hazelnut color.
  • Finally season to taste with salt, vanilla and sherry vinegar if necessary. These other items should mostly halt the cooking as well. Watch out for some splatter. Put the gnocchi back in the pan and toss in the sauce.
  • Take out your hot duck breast and slice thin. Four very thin slices per plate should do nicely; pumpkin is the star here.


  • Put down the four slices of duck breast, then mound up a serving of the gnocchi.
  • Sprinkle some of the pumpkin seeds around the plate with some fresh ground black pepper.
  • Grate some of your parmigiano-reggiano onto the gnocchi and serve.

All done!

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